LOOK BACK IN TIME: 9 April 1859

The Isle of Wight Observer tells of a time when parliament actually took an interest in the financial dealings of the cross-Solent ferry services. Unfortunately it was 165 years ago, as the newspaper was published on published on April 9th, 1859. Wherever did the editor of the time get the idea that the ferry companies were ‘doing everything in their power to exasperate the public’? What a suggestion!


The publication of a telegram on Tuesday evening, announcing the entire defeat of the Ferry Company’s Bill in the Committee of the House of Commons, took the town by surprise. Indeed, the most determined and sanguine enemy of the Company and their works, did not expect at most to see more secured than the right of free access to the shore; and they certainly never anticipated that an extension of borrowing powers for the completion of their works would have been denied to them. This defeat must have a most disastrous effect upon the Company, as it must be an act of utter impossibility for them to complete their original project before the middle of July, at which time their Act expires. Notwithstanding this reverse, the erection of the inner wall to form a basin of the larger (or eastern) division of their world proceeds with vigour; the contractor having upwards of 50 men employed thereon. Should this portion of the project be completed at once, it certainly will diminish much of the objection hitherto entertained towards it, as the basin could be flooded and made to appear, if not attractive, at least not unsightly. Is it not a wonder that the Company did not do this before, instead of doing everything in their power to exasperate the public? However, it is no use to speculate on the past; so let us hope that something will be done to prevent further unpleasantness, if amicable settlement cannot be arrived at.